When I wrote about our worms and ladybugs a few days ago, several people told me that they had been thinking of starting to compost with worms, but didn’t want to spend $100+ on the bin. So I thought I’d take pictures of our $5 setup that my husband made. He bought three big plastic totes at the thrift store for a total of $5 (they’re just storage bins – you probably have some lying around somewhere). He drilled holes in the sides and bottoms of two of the bins. The third he left intact. They nest inside each other, which is key. The one without holes is basically to catch liquid/compost/worms that come out of the holes in the other bins. He put one of the drilled bins inside the intact bin, and that’s it to start. We put leaves, shredded paper, cardboard, and a bunch of kitchen scraps into the top bin (the one with holes) with the worms, and they’re happy little campers. Any liquid from our kitchen scraps bin drains out the holes in the bottom and we empty it periodically. The fancy worm bins have a spigot in the bottom bin, but removing the bin with the worms so that you can empty the catch bin is worth saving $100.
The second bin with holes in it comes into play once the first bin is about half full of compost. You just remove the lid of the worm bin, set the second drilled bin on top of the worms/compost mixture, and put the lid on top (so now you have three bins stacked up, with worms and compost in the middle bin and nothing in the top bin). Then you start putting your scraps into the top bin. The worms will start to migrate up there looking for food. After a while, the worms will have all moved into the top bin, and your middle bin will just be full of really great compost.
Here are some pics of our setup. The first one shows what we have now: a catch bin and a drilled bin with worms in it. The second shows our third bin, which we’re not using yet because the worms are still working on the scraps in the first bin. The third shows a glimpse of the inside of the bin where the worms are currently working. There’s no odor at all from the compost by the way. You have to stick your nose right down into the bin to smell anything, and then it just smells like really good dirt.
I hope the description and the pictures help make it a little easier for some of you to reproduce this setup for yourselves. It sure is easier than trudging outside when it’s 2 degrees and snowing to dump the kitchen scraps into a frozen-solid compost bin.
In other news, I saw a sweet high efficiency washing machine at our neighborhood thrift store yesterday, for $50 (!!). But alas, it had a sold sign on it. We bought our washing machine refurbished in 2004, after the 1980s machine that came with out house kicked the bucket (and did so in grand style, pouring water all over our floor, down the heating vents, and into our garage ceiling – I think we were up until 4am that night, tearing out insulation and drywall). Anyway, our washing machine works. It doesn’t work perfectly, and I sometimes have to put things back through the laundry to get them clean. After spending two years living in Africa, I’m truly grateful just to have a machine that washes clothes for me, so I’m not complaining. But I would love a new (to us) washing machine someday. A high efficiency one would be awesome. I’m just not willing to pay $1000 to get one. So although I was bummed to see that someone had already snagged the one in the thrift store, it gave me hope that I will eventually find a good used washing machine at a price that doesn’t make me cringe.
In the Frugal Blog Network last week,
Tight Fisted Miser sold his car. And I don’t mean traded it in. He’s car free, something that more of us could be if we put our minds to it.
The Frugal Duchess writes about BOGO shopping. Good ideas here, and if you only need one, it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can get one half off instead of two for the price of one.
Frugal Zeitgeist has a post about how to make your goals S.M.A.R.T – following her instructions will increase your odds of meeting your goals, whether they’re big or small.
Almost Frugal has a good compilation of frugal tips for college students. Although I’d say that some of those tips will work for anyone, student or not.
Not Made Of Money has a good list of personal finance related resolutions for 2009. Use this list to kick start your own ideas of where you want to be a year from now. And whatever goals you set, make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T.